In Sierra Leone, only 25% of girls make it to secondary education. Of those, 15% finish high school. Instead, they are coping with early marriage, pregnancy and a constant feeling of vulnerability.
Year one outputs
Research shows that girls in education respond better to female teachers, who make up just 16% of primary school teachers. It’s clear to see how so few girls make the transition to secondary education.
The Sierra Leone teaching project run by JM’s charity partner, Plan International UK, exists to support women into teaching positions and to ultimately break the barrier between young girls and fundamental education. In March 2017, 480 women enrolled in teacher training college. JM has supported the cost of their tuition fees, learning materials and transport. So far, 476 trainee teachers have graduated to second year. After their third year of training, these young women will be qualified to teach in primary schools.
During their first year, each trainee teacher gained in-class experience in residential schools. For some, it was the first time they’d been back in a classroom since they left school at age 13. The women are supported with a monthly living allowance, so that while they train they can still support themselves.
The student teachers are determined. Plan International has reported an increase in self-esteem amongst the women, which helps encourage them to try for new things, like run for local councillor positions. Greater self-confidence also improves their performance in training. The women don’t want to go back to their ‘old lives’, and are committed to the journey they’re on. They want to make a difference to their own lives and the lives of the young girls who need them.
JM has funded this project because education is a basic human right. Every girl and boy deserves to learn about the world they live in; to discover a talent that distinguishes them and a passion that excites them. Every child should be given an opportunity to make the most of life.
An important investment
Girls are still being treated unfairly in many countries, in want of any or decent education. When girls are educated, they are healthier, have fewer children and can earn a higher income. The more girls we can educate, the faster we can break the current cycle and develop a generation of young women who are skilled and educated, and who can go out and make their mark on the world.
With more female teachers in place, the cycle can be broken faster, having both a positive economic and social impact in Sierra Leone. We'll keep you updated with the progress of these teachers as they embark on the next stages of training.
Supporting female teachers in Sierra Leone
Hear what Sally Jones has to say on partnering with Plan International.